“It doesn’t take exceptional effort to live with intention. On the contrary, you exert more energy when focusing on the inconsequential.”
– Minimalism Co
I’m always pleasantly reminded of the beautiful simplicity of life when it’s time to start planning for our next academic year. While Montessori minimalist homeschool planning or any type of homeschool planning may sound like a stressful, tedious task, it’s actually quite pleasant for me. No, it’s not because I’m a Type A git-er-done kinda gal. And yes, some of it is due to the preparation I put in before I started homeschooling our kids. However, I believe the majority of joy I experience during the planning process comes from the approach we take as a family to homeschooling. It’s an approach that’s very mindful of our rhythms and routines, and incorporates a lot of freedom for our children. It’s also an approach that supports a growth mindset.
Homeschool planning takes some practice, but it doesn’t have to be painful and it doesn’t have to be inflexible. I hope that sharing our homeschool planning process with you will inspire you to focus on simple and intentional methods of planning, and also alleviate some of the stress that many often feel while trying to map out their homeschool rhythms and routines for the upcoming year. This homeschool planning process will work for any age student or students.
Montessori Minimalist Homeschool Planning
1. Gather the Necessary Planning Materials
For many, this will be your Scope and Sequence, Goals, and Planner. I’ve shared our planner preferences in the past and you can find them here. You can get $10 off your first Erin Condren purchase here. You’ll notice I have an extra little notebook this year, in addition to my beautiful minimally-styled leather planner. It’s a very inexpensive dot-grid notebook and I’m going to use it to track some additional information on the side. Are you looking for a free Montessori planner? You can get that right here.
I’ve also shared in the past that we don’t write specific goals for our kids, but if you do, this is where the rubber meets the road. Be careful not to write goals that are too specific. Doing that can set you up for expectations that may be unmet, depending on a thousand different variables that can enter the equation during a given academic year. I would suggest something more general, such as: “Johnny’s reading skills will improve this year as evidenced by [whatever work you’re using to sharpen that skillset]” or “Sally’s number recognition, number quantity, and number sequencing skills will improve this year as evidenced by her work with the Ten Boards and the Hundred Board Montessori materials.” It requires having a firm understanding of where your child is currently at and then setting a realistic goal. I should also mention that, depending on where you live, there may be certain regulations you need to include in your planning process. Make sure you’ve researched that as well as the registration process for your family.
Create a List
Make a list of the skills your child will master. If you’re not sure about something, check out some books or ask someone. There are some great Montessori communities (free and paid subscription) available to join. If you need help finding one, shoot me an email.
It’s important to keep in mind that Progress is the Key. If the child is progressing, fast or slow, that’s still a good sign. Looking around at other kids isn’t going to provide any helpful information so it’s important to follow the child. This is why we don’t write specific goals. We know where our kids are at and we’re able to gauge improvement in specific areas using that information. We can then compare that data to the scope and sequence to see where they’re likely headed from there.
2. Take Inventory of What You Already Own
Get creative! Once you have an idea of what your child will be learning, don’t run out and purchase anything right away. If you know what skills a child is working on, chances are, you can probably find some items around your home to help with mastery of those skills.
We were very successful at using everyday Practical Life items and items found in nature as a substitute for materials we didn’t want to purchase when our oldest was in preschool. For example, we didn’t buy a lot of the Montessori sensorial materials such as: rough and smooth boards, smelling bottles, fabric box, thermic bottles, pressure cylinders, baric tablets, or the mystery bag. The skills that are mastered with those items can also be mastered using a lot of items found in your kitchen. We saved a lot of money and space that way.
We did purchase the Montessori sound cylinders but a couple of them broke open in year 2 so we decided not to reinvest in them. Turns out, spice jars are also a very effective way of discerning sound and you can incorporate that work into time you’re already spending in the kitchen. That kind of flexibility, creativity, and spontaneity goes a long way with kids, and they’ll appreciate your efforts.
3. Purchase Materials Your Kid(s) Will Show Interest In
Education is not a one-solution-fits-all kind of thing. If you want your kids to love what they’re learning, find ways to include them and their interests in your Montessori minimalist homeschool planning as much as possible. Our kids are much more likely to concentrate on a task that contains elements of a topic they’re interested in.
Combine Subjects Where Possible
This is also a great time to look for materials that integrate more than one subject. For example, Art Appreciation that incorporates different geographical regions or unit studies that tie in several subjects will work well. Using an interdisciplinary approach reflects the interconnectedness of things and encourages a more comprehensive understanding.
Don’t Rush to Replace What Isn’t Working
Something to keep in mind, if you find that a child isn’t showing any interest in a specific task or shelf work that you thought for sure was the perfect fit for them, don’t get discouraged. It may just be the day. If the lack of interest is persistent, try to use the same kind of creativity I mentioned earlier to stimulate their interest.
One thing we always do is display our puzzles in pieces. If it’s a new puzzle, our kids want to find out what it creates or learn how to solve it. If it’s not a new puzzle, they’d just rather see it put together and feel that they’ve completed that work before moving on to something else. When a child is frustrated that they can’t solve a puzzle or some other work, try putting it away for the next rotation and then displaying it halfway completed next time. See if that encourages the child to try again. You can always build from there and work backwards to where they are eventually completing the puzzle from the beginning.
When going through the homeschool planning process, don’t forget to check out Montessori printables! They will help you bridge any gaps and they can even be a whole comprehensive resource, in addition to any Montessori albums or curriculum resources you are using. I’ve seen some really impressive printable bundles online that cover whole subject areas, if you need them. You can check out which free and affordable printables we’ve found the most helpful in our Unit Studies.
Look for Free and Discounted Resources
Don’t forget about these. The library and local, state, and federal agencies are where we’ve found most of our free resources. We’ve also found some awesome Montessori-friendly printables for free. Craigslist and Buy-Sell-Trade groups are also opportunities to save money.
Leave Room for Growth
Finally, don’t worry about having everything you need right away. It takes time and repetition for both the child and the adult to learn new things. Also, you’re nurturing a child with their own unique interests and the desire for freedom of choice. You don’t want to overlook that. Leave some room for them to grow and change. Less is more.
4. Be Flexible and Patient
Now, you’re finally ready to start some Montessori minimalist homeschool planning. Go ahead and get excited! It’s going to be a great experience for everyone. There will surely be bumps along the way, but you are deepening a meaningful connection with a wonderful little being. Together, you will go on a journey that adds so much value to your relationship through your shared experiences. Along your journey, you will find that patience, love, acceptance, and flexibility are the keys to supporting your little one, no matter how they are doing.
Put the Plan on Paper
Go ahead and jot down some things you might want to introduce throughout the year, starting by month. You can expand or change those plans as the time approaches and your child is showing you what they want to learn. Seasonal works are great for adding interest and value at specific times of year. In addition, be mindful of your family’s normal rhythm and routines throughout the year. Know when you’re most active as a family as opposed to when you like to slow down and rest. Plan accordingly. Don’t go planning a bunch of activities around December or January if you know you guys like to rock the hygge lifestyle in the winter and knit by the fire or relax with a cup of cocoa and a good book.
Give your child as much control over their daily rhythm and routine as they can manage. When they are younger, you can empower them to complete certain routines themselves using a simple Visual Schedule. As they get older and they increase in their independence, their Visual Calendar can reflect that autonomy.
Above all else, know that plans will change as you make your way through the year together. And that’s ok. Sometimes, it’s awesome. Use your powers of observation, reflect, and make adjustments as needed. Most importantly, keep going! You may find that the goals are well within reach.
I hope you’ve found this helpful as you sit down to do some planning of your own. Having a simple, minimal routine helps us get through the process minus any frustration. What do you think of my Montessori minimalist homeschool planning routine? How will you go about planning your homeschool year if you haven’t started already? Are you stuck on something?
- Montessori Primary Curriculum
- Montessori Shelves and Constructing the Prepared Environment
- Homeschool Daily Rhythm
- The Best Montessori Sensorial Materials for Homeschool Plus FREE Ebook Guide
- Bilingual Spanish-English Books
- Montessori Elementary Curriculum Resources
- Math: Concrete to Abstraction
- Montessori Indigenous Education Books